Thursday, 27 October 2011

Vigil against violence and hate crime

There is a a solidarity vigil on Friday 28th October, from 6.30-8.30pm at George Square. This vigil seeks to show that Glasgow does not tolerate violence against women or any form of hate crime.

Useful links:

Stop Rape -

Time to cotton on

This week, I received information from Traidcraft and the Fairtrade Foundation highlighting that millions of cotton farmers in Africa are facing a daily struggle to survive.

The world's cotton production is valued at thirty billion annually. However, many cotton farmers in developing countries are facing hardship. It could be different and action is needed to bring about change.

In December, government representatives are meeting for a World Trade Organisation Summit. Talks require to deliver a global trade deal to help the poorest farmers. The US has to reduce its cotton subsidies and give African cotton farmers a fair price. 

The campaign for a better deal for poor cotton farmers can be supported by urging the UK Government to take positive action and end unfair European cotton subsidies.

Useful links:-

Traidcraft -

Improvements to pedestrian crossing on Gibson Street

In recent weeks, improvements have been made to the crossing at the junction of Gibson Street, Bank Street and University Avenue. 

New pavement crossing at Bank Street.

The pavement has been upgraded and traffic signal timings will be altered to improve safety. 

This work has been undertaken by the Council and will assist everyone who walks in the area, especially parents, children and young people of the new Hillhead Primary School in Kelvin Way.

Taking care of Community Planters

There are a series of planters located within the streets of the Woodlands area. These planters were funded by public subscription and are held in the care of the local community council.

A planter on West Princes Street.

In the last two weeks, a clean up has removed litter from each of the planters. Some have been adopted and cared for by individuals. It is hoped they can all remain litter free with help from local residents.

A planter on West Princes Street, next to Woodlands Drive.

I regularly walk up and down West Princes Street. The planters in the Woodlands area are unique community assets and a very important to part of the area's heritage. 

Several planters require to be relocated from Montague Street due to the new housing development. It is suggested they are relocated to Willowbank Crescent and West Princes Street. Comments and views are being sought from local residents on this proposal.

Support for energy efficiency champions

Due to the budgetary pressures we face and the introduction of the carbon reduction commitment, Glasgow City Council is taking action to reduce its energy consumption. Last year's consumption of energy, gas in particular, increased on the previous year. Clear guidance for staff on the arrangements for heating buildings over the winter months is being progressed to address this situation.

According to the Carbon Trust, organisations could save 21% of their total energy spend by increasing awareness.  Now more than ever, councillors have to support greater energy efficiency. We need to ensure that energy costs are cut.  We should grasp this opportunity and help to improve the profile of Glasgow City Council in its efforts to tackle climate change and cut carbon emissions.

Councillors should be willing to be part of a network of Energy Champions who help to reduce energy consumption in each of the council's services and arms length companies.  We have to monitor energy usage and minimise energy costs in the projects we make decisions about.

In my role as chair of the Energy and Carbon Working Group, I have been pushing for a proactive approach to reduce energy consumption in all council buildings. This was supported by all councillors in the City Chambers at a meeting today. 

Useful links:-

The Carbon Trust -

Energy Savings Trust -

Carbon Reduction Commitment -

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Taking the bus to London

This week, I made a bus trip to London and back again. It was a journey to visit members of my family but my time there coincided with the Occupation of the Financial District by peaceful protesters. On 18th October, I went along to the site of the occupation, next to St. Paul's Cathedral to see for myself what was going on.

The occupation outside St. Paul's Cathdral, London.

There were over 200 people gathered together in the early evening to share news and organise their activities. I joined in a debate about what the Occupation hoped to achieve and was inspired by people's belief in bringing about change in the financial system to create a fairer world.

Banner at occupation in Glasgow's George Square

On my return to Glasgow, I have meet up with people occupying George Square who share the same concerns as other people involved in the occupation movement in London and across the world.

We are living in a time of increasing financial hardship. It would appear that these protests are seeking change by collective action involving people who are not going to accept widening inequalities within our society, the ongoing banking crisis and the government cuts to jobs and services.

Useful links:-

Friday, 21 October 2011

Put a stop to modern day slavery

I visited London on Anti-Slavery Day, the 18th of October. Walking through Trafalgar Square, I came across a stall by the Slavery-Free London campaign and picked up various leaflets.

Human trafficking sculpture in Trafalgar Square.

They highlight that people are trafficked to the UK and forced to work in prostitution, domestic work, cleaning,and food industry.

Leaflet on responsible purchasing.

Information shared concern about the thousands of children trafficked into cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast, and the West Africa Coast, where 75% of the world's cocoa comes from.

If you buy chocolate it is worth putting pressure on all producers to supply fairtrade chocolate as this can discourage the use of child labour.

Useful links:-

Stop The Traffik -

Buy Responsibly -

Friday, 14 October 2011

Women's Nobel Peace Prize Winners

This month, we have lost Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan Environmentalist and Political Activist, who inspired women across the globe. She died in the knowledge that she had brought about amazing changes in the quality of the lives of many families in Africa.

Wangari Maathai was the recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She became the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the prize.

Following in her footsteps three women have received the Nobel Peace Prize 2011 - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman - "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work".

This award gives great encouragement to women who continue to campaign to promote peace and justice in the war-torn areas of the world.  

Useful Links:

Wangari Maathai -

Nobel Prize Prize -

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Living Streets

Yesterday, I took part in the Harvest Festival at the Woodlands Community Garden. There was a great turnout and lots of interest in food growing and home cookery.

Bike parking on West Princes Street during Harvest Festival

I got involved in discussions and general debate about how to improve cycling and walking routes in the city.  

Repairs and maintenance of pavements is a major concern for people who want to get around on foot. It appears the majority of investment is focused on roads and pedestrians want to see the potholes on pavements repaired with the same level of priority. I have advocated for resources to be allocated to maintaining existing roads and pavements rather than building new roads.

I also heard about a campaign hosted by Living Streets which aims to stop cars parking on pavements.

I will highlight these concerns as part of my ongoing efforts to enhance the city's environment for walkers and cyclists.

Useful link:-

Transition to the new economy

It has been an extraordinary week for the global financial system and protest movement against the cuts. I took part in the mass demonstration organised by the STUC on Saturday 1st October and joined with trade unionists, peace activists, students and young people concerned about people's future in the midst of the worst ever financial crisis the world has faced. Since then, we have seen the governor of the Bank of England printing another £75bn to ease the financial crisis but forecasters cannot guarantee this will bring an end to the ongoing economic misery facing the poorest and most vulnerable groups.

Memories of a rainy demonstration on 1st October 2011.

It is clear that humans are facing tough times. There is a way forward through support for progressive economic policies and development of local resilient communities, focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy production.

We can act locally and harness the talents, vision and goodwill of local community organisations and their membership. By getting involved in a local transition movement, our efforts can invest in ongoing local collective action that looks to adapt to the end of cheap oil, rebuild local agriculture, consume less "stuff" and localise energy production.

Inspiration can be found from the various projects being supported by the Transition Towns Movement and New Economics Foundation.

Useful links:

Transition Towns -

The Great Transition -

Towards Transition Glasgow -

Support needed for bee-keeping

There is a need to promote responsible bee-keeping within community gardens and allotments as part of efforts to preserve honey bees. I have been made aware of the existence of management rules for keeping bees. These rules set out the requirements to be met by anyone keeping bees including completion of a "Basic Beemaster Certificate" and membership of the Scottish Beekeepers Association.

Bee on flowers in Woodlands.

It is my understanding that a policy on bee-keeping is being considered by Glasgow City Council. I am hoping the model policy adopted for Edinburgh City Council's Allotment Strategy located in Appendix 5 will be adapted.

Useful links:

Scottish Beekeeping Association -

Model policy in Edinburgh's Allotment Strategy Appendix 5 -